Deaths due to falls on the rise; seniors at greater risk
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Connecticut Department of Public Health
September 23, 2014 Contact: William Gerrish
Hartford – On the first day of fall, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) reminds residents to take measures to prevent falls.
Falls can happen to anyone, but they are particular common among seniors. Falls can cause serious injuries such as head trauma and fractures that require emergency treatment or hospitalization. Older adults may require a year or more to recover from these injuries and may never be able to return to their homes.
In the United States, falls are the leading cause of injury and death among older adults 65 years of age and older. In Connecticut falls account for $1.37 billion a year in lifetime costs. They are the leading cause of emergency department (ED) visits for injuries, and cause nearly all hip fractures and one-third of all traumatic brain injuries. Children under 18 years of age and adults 65 years of age and older each account for about three out of every 10 ED visits for falls.
During the last decade, the number of deaths due to falls nearly doubled, and falls overtook accidental poisoning and motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of unintentional injury death. In 2010, there were 327 deaths in Connecticut among persons of all ages due to falls.
“Although falls frequently occur among seniors, most falls can be prevented with simple precautions or strategies,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “A few basic steps can help seniors live longer healthier lives and preserve their independence.”
The National Council on Aging recommends that seniors take control of their health by taking these six steps to prevent a fall:
1. Find a good balance and exercise program
Look to build balance, strength, and flexibility. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for referrals. Find a program you like and take a friend.
2. Talk to your health care provider
Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling. Share your history of recent falls.
3. Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist
Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling. Take medications only as directed.
4. Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses.
Your eyes and ears are key to keeping you on your feet.
5. Keep your home safe
Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe, and install grab bars in key areas.
6. Talk to your family members
Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. Falls are not just a seniors’ issue.
For a home fall prevention checklist for older adults, please visit www.ct.gov/dph.